Netherlands Interuniversity School for Islamic Studies


7 July 2020
14:00 - 17:00

Masterclass “The Past and Future of Islamic Studies” #1

In this series of masterclasses, convened by the NISIS Junior Council, we examine and interrogate the changing scholarly landscape in Islamic and Middle East Studies so as to understand its limits and potentials. How will research on Islamic traditions and cultures look like in the future? And how is it evolving in the present? How do we creatively and critically imagine alternative worlds of research and aspire to new sets of methods?

In this course participants and speakers, all leading experts in the field, venture to respond to these fundamental questions with a series of lectures and seminar sessions. Each session focuses on a specific theme from the vantage point of the past and the future. Participants will be offered two perspectives on the same theme: one is rooted in the scholarly traditions of studying the past in Islamic studies, while the other focuses on new methodological/conceptual approaches in the study of modern and contemporary Islam. In both perspectives, we want to explore ways to move beyond the already-experienced towards the un-explored and un-thinkable.

Session #1: Interdisciplinarity in the study of Islam and of Islamic history (July 7) 

In our introductory session we begin by giving an overview of the field as it evolved from the past to the present. The idea is to first get a general view of the main developments and then move towards grasping the interdisciplinary potentials in the field. Ideally, we want to know how scholars shifted their views, how research materials changed—the kinds of texts that were examined and the methods of examination. Speakers for this session are dr. Edmund Hayes, prof. Aaron Hughes and prof. Christian Lange.

14:00 – 14:15: Introductory remarks.

14:15 – 15:15: Prof. Aaron Hughes

Trends in Islamic studies in general — with a focus on insider/outsider, critic/caretaker — and how they pertain to the study of early Islam in particular. His talk will be followed by a round of discussion. For this section, you read the introduction and 6th chapter of Hughes book (optional) and the short article “Good Muslim, bad Muslim” (compulsory).

15:15 – 15:30Break

15:30 – 16:15Prof. Christian Lange
Why it is relevant and important to study the Muslim hell (20-30 minutes talk followed by discussion). For this part you read the one article by Prof. Lange. 

16:15 – 17:00Dr. Edmund Hayes
Shii Studies or Social history (20-30 minutes talk followed by discussion). For this part you read Antoine Borrut’s “Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam” and Asad’s “Idea of an Anthropology of Islam” (optional).

Session #2: The Arts and media (Second half of September 2020, exact date, time and place will be announced soon)
For this session, we will approach art and media from two points of view. In one approach, having Dr. Valerie Gonzalez as our speaker, we look at how art and media in the Islamic traditions have been studied. From the other standpoint, we get a glimpse of how Islamic Studies can feed into artistic/creative practices. Dr. Azadeh Emadi will be our speaker for this part of the session, as her works are on one hand informed by materials that fall into the scope of Islamic Studies, while her methods are radically distant from what we know in the field.

Two more sessions will be organised in Spring and Autumn 2021, for which we have tentatively chosen two themes: environmental studies and secularity in Islamic Studies. The details for these latter two events will be announced in due time.

Participants are eligible for credits for this masterclass series. You can earn 1 EC for active participation, and an additional 4 EC for a paper of 3000 words.

The full course description can be found here. Please note that the registration deadline is June 29. For more information and registration for the course, please contact any of the NISIS junior council representatives:

Arash Ghajarjazi (